The Blog

What helps?
September 10, 2018

When Katie was little we never tried to talk her out of being sad. We never told her not to cry. Well, Darrell did once! He came around quickly, though.

When you suggest people “calm down” or “smile” or “buck up” they have a new problem. They were sad, and now they’re ashamed.

Sometimes the only way to feel better is to let yourself feel even worse. Practice on yourself. You’ll see how effective it is.

Be religious about it with your children. They’ll learn to trust themselves.

Afford the person you’re married to that courtesy. Collectively we’d save -- what? -- a million billion dollars (or so!) in therapy.

SwitzerlandEver heard of Debbie Millman? She’s a big deal in the design world. She occupies more than her fair share of my brain space because she once made this suggestion: “Imagine immensities.”

Every time I think of it I can almost feel my lungs filling up with air. Good air. Colorado mountain air. Something relaxes inside. I give myself permission to keep dreaming.

Then I get back to work -- refreshed from a reminder there’s so much joy left to seize.

How do people see you?
September 6, 2018

I’m walking toward the checkouts at Target, thinking of how I want to move through the world. With grace. As someone with a lot to offer. Because that’s where it starts, right? With intention.

A few seconds later -- no kidding, seconds -- a Target gal approached me. “You have such an elegant, classy way about you,” she said! I smiled big, leaned in a little closer to her, and admitted I hadn’t exactly dressed up. “But it’s the way you carry yourself,” she countered.

I told her I’d just reminded myself to stand up straighter and would probably always remember this exchange, the timing was that eerie.

A few months later I pulled the same gal aside to tell her I still think about it every time I walk in the store and at least a couple of other times during the week: “Am I carrying myself in a way that Target gal would notice?”

You can change your life with a single intention. You can change someone else’s life with a passing comment. Makes it a little easier to get up in the morning, doesn’t it?

Have you heard the suggestion to replay your favorite fifteen minutes of the day before you fall asleep? I’ve been doing that for a long time. It’s a sweet way to drift off.

Oh, sure. You could use that time to beat yourself up for what you didn’t finish. You could worry about the next day and the day after that. You could mourn the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

You’ll probably be dragging tomorrow, though. The fret train is hardly an expressway to sleep, let alone sweet dreams.

I’ll stick to my routine, thank you very much. It’s a great way to thank the heavens for the privilege of being here at all.

The fewer buttons you need to push first thing in the morning, the more likely you’ll ease into the day with…ease.

That’s one reason I set the clock on the microwave for how long I wanted my coffee -- back when I was drinking coffee -- to heat. The mug was inside, ready to go, and all I had to do was press “start.”

The downside? Darrell couldn’t tell what time it was when he got up in the middle of the night.

Which was also the upside. Right?

What’s going to happen when you know what time it is? You’ll start doing the math. “Okay. Four o’clock. Three more hours until the alarm goes off. Better get right back to sleep. Go!”

I’m awake now.

Almost any sleep expert will tell you it’s better not to know the time. Sweet dreams.

parking lotIf I was hiring people I think I’d find out when they planned to get groceries. Then I’d sit in the parking lot and watch what they did with their cart when they finished unloading.

Do they walk it over to a corral? Or do they leave it next to other carts in a different part of the lot, nowhere near a corral? How difficult do they make it for the store employee charged with wrangling those carts?

The other day someone chose to leave a cart in the middle of the driving lane. What else would you need to know about that person?

You might think nobody’s watching, or nobody cares. Have you not seen the news? Someone’s always watching. Good behavior is its own reward, of course. But these days it can also keep you out of serious, permanent trouble.

-

photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

When Katie was a baby I took her with me on morning rounds to gather the news. I was a reporter for a radio station in town, and Darrell -- who was working from home -- appreciated the time to focus.

Nobody seemed to have a problem with the arrangement, not that I’d asked. The gals at the police department, the sheriff’s office, and the court administrator’s office acted like I made their day, every day, by sharing Kate with them. They happily doted on her while I looked at the reports.

One day I heard the reporter from the other radio station was not happy about this. It struck me as exactly none of his business, but I took a poll just in case. I asked everyone I worked with if she minded that Katie was with me.

“The only thing we’d mind,” every single person said, “is if you showed up without her.”

There’s more than one way to do life. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Particularly the people who aren’t pulling for you. You won’t keep them happy no matter what.

Are you compelling?
August 28, 2018

“Let me tell you something about my grandmother.”

Storyworthy author Matthew Dicks says no one’s ever wanted to hear what follows that statement. You can make your grandmother compelling, he says, but not with that opener. You’re begging people to wonder why you’re even talking.

They won’t say it, of course. They’ll reach for their phones, interrupt with a question about something not related to your grandmother, or suddenly remember they’re supposed to be somewhere else.

Katie’s less subtle with her parents. She’ll stop us in the middle of a sentence to say, “I’m bored.” Or she’ll look at us, deadpan, and say, “Good story.” Which is her way of saying it isn’t.

The greatest gift is attention. Coming in a close second? Making people glad they extended it.